There's no right or wrong way to write. We all work differently, value different aspects of story, and are aiming for different outcomes. This is why I've identified four writer types and will be teaching you how to play to your strengths, whichever you are.
First, take the quiz to find out if you're character- or plot-driven, and if you're a plotter or pantser!
If you're still here, you're probably a character-driven pantser, but you can find blog posts for the other three types here:
What's a Plot-Driven Plotter?
Plotters are organised and like to have a clear outline of their story before they start drafting – this makes for strong plots and characters, but means they may struggle with adapting and staying open to change. As a plot-driven plotter, you're more interested in creating an engaging plot than letting the characters take control.
So, here are three tips for you to write better as a Plot-Driven PLotter!
1. Don't leave your characters behind
When you're a plot-driven writer, it can be tempting to make the characters work for the plot, but this doesn't happen in real life. In real life, we resist change, we avoid conflict, and more often than not, we don't choose to do the brave, heroic thing.
This might create a problem when you're creating a plot-driven story, because you should (almost) never write a character that has no agency and is only guided by external plot points.
A brave MC who is automatically up to facing all the challenges you throw at them can feel boring, unrealistic, and unrelatable. A flawed, resistant character who has strong development is more interesting than a character who starts out 'perfect' and never develops.
Think of ways to push your characters to do what needs to be done, and how that will impact them. In The Hunger Games, for example, Katniss doesn't want to compete in the games - she has to because she wants to save her sister. So what can you do to give your character agency and development?
2. Be open to change
As a plotter myself, I struggle with letting myself change my story when I know something isn't working. Sometimes our characters take the wheel and steer us in a direction we never expected!
This is when it's important to step back, let go, and really consider what's best for the story. If your characters are screaming, "hey, we want to go this way, not that way!" that's a sign you should think about reworking your story.
I both love and hate when this happens. I put a lot of effort into my outlines, and I don't want to go back and change everything. But this happens so you can make your story better, and you must be ready to adapt. If your story doesn't feel right to you, readers won't be convinced either.
This might also occur during edits or beta reads, when people are telling you they would prefer the story to go in a different direction. Use your writer's gut-instinct to decide whether the feedback is right for your story or not.
3. Remember to create a strong narrative voice
It can be easy to get carried away with writing quickly and overly-factually when you have everything plotted in a perfectly-organised, step-by-step list. But, readers should never feel as if they're being told a story; they should feel as if they're experiencing it.
Whether you're using first, second or third person, don't forget to write in a strong, unique voice that carries the reader away and fits your main character/narrator. Find a balance between using the five senses to create an atmosphere (and show emotions effectively), and not over-describing.
Many writers - and I agree with this! - prefer to write their first draft quickly and, frankly, 'badly'. It's all about getting the story down. Then, in your edits, you can go back and add in the perfect narrative voice for the story you're telling.
A related tip is to keep some mystery. When everything is meticulously planned, it can be easy to tell-not-show and give the reader too much information at once. Drop pieces of information as you go, woven into the writing, rather than info-dumping.
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